One of the first big Oscar contenders of the season, Doubt is a story about assumption and suspicion, accusation and innocence set inside a Catholic school. And of course its deep subject matter makes it a subject much too serious to make fun of. Well, maybe a little.
In Doubt, Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays Father Flynn, a Catholic priest who’s accused of sexually harassing a twelve-year-old boy after meeting privately with him by Sister Aloysius, played by Meryl Streep. Even though she has no proof whatsoever, Sister Aloysius feels justified in her accusations because of a certain… je ne sais quoi. For whatever reason, she just knows he’s guilty, and spends the rest of the movie stomping around in righteous indignation making hollow threats, and frightening Amy Adams.
This past week, Doubt was nominated for five Academy Awards, including adapted screenplay and noms for all of its principals. I agree with all of them except for Viola Davis, who played Donald Miller’s mother. I’m sure there were people leaping to their feet screaming, “Brilliant!” after seeing her five minutes in the movie, but I didn’t think her performance was necessarily Oscar-worthy. Competent, but that was about it. Everyone else is great. I’ve always been a big Phillip Seymour Hoffman fan, and really enjoy seeing his take on different characters. He seems to be drawn toward those who are always carrying some great weight on their shoulders, and after so long are just tired. After insisting throughout the entire movie that he is innocent, one sees how Sister Aloysius’ accusations have worn on him.
In case you forgot, Amy Adams is also in the movie. After seeing Hoffman’s and Streep’s performances, Adams looks like little more than window dressing, but it’s cute window dressing, and I’m happy to see how far she’s come since I first saw her selling purses on The Office.
Watching this movie renewed my deep, passionate hatred for Meryl Streep, which I guess is proof that she really is a good actress. But man, I really hated her in this movie. The ending is left very ambiguous, and rightfully so, but there’s a good scene that I won’t ruin where she questions whether or not she did the right thing. I won’t make predictions on how many Oscars this one will walk away with, because it’s going up against some pretty stiff competition, and has a pretty good chance of being swept by Slumdog Millionaire, but if you’ve got a chance to check this out, you should definitely take it. A